Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maybe "W" stands for strong women, too



Three of the lovely ladies of "W" recently sat down for individual chats in Toronto. Trouble is, none were at the 33rd annual film festival there to talk about their roles in Oliver Stone's terrific "fictional" portrait of our 43rd President.
Ellen Burstyn, who plays former first lady and current first mom Barbara Bush, came for two films, "Lovely, Still," and "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond."
So did Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush, with Josh Brolin as "W." at right) who arrived for "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" and, like Burstyn, "Lovely, Still."
Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice) was part of a press conference for "Rocknrolla."
Pretty good news, though: All but Newton were persuaded to say a little somethin' about the compellingly good ol' "W.," which opens everywhere on Friday.
"Well, I love Oliver Stone. He's so talented," said Burstyn. "I'm only in six scenes and not an important person in the story. It's much more about the relationship between the father and the son.

"I think it's a very good script and, of course, it's very, very political and an expression of Oliver's politics, but I think that it's very well researched and factual and based on what really went down. I read four books during that period on the Bushes. They're quite an amazing family. We'll see how everyone responds to it.
"What's really remarkable," concluded Burstyn (below with the grand James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush), "is that Oliver just finished shooting in August. I can't believe he's getting it out soon."

Added Banks, "I made ‘Role Models’ last year and it comes out Nov. 7. Then I got ‘Zack and Miri’ and then I got ‘W.’ after that, and ‘W.’ comes out first. It’s literally in reverse order, so you can imagine how fast Oliver had to put it all together.

"This is my third bio pick, and there is always a greater responsibility when you are playing someone real," she continued. "They could potentially see the movie. Their friends and family could potentially see the movie.
"I want Laura Bush, if she ever does see the movie, to feel like she was respectfully portrayed -- that I somehow captured her essence, whatever that means, because that’s the best that I can do. It’s not an impression. I’m not trying to be Laura Bush. I don’t know Laura Bush. My research did not involve me shadowing Laura Bush in her private life.
"I only had my best educated guessing to go from, culling from all the biographical material, and trying to mine it for the personal moments I felt like I actually revealed something about who Laura Bush really is."

Newton was considerably less talkative.

Did she meet Condaleezza Rice? "No, I didn't."

Did she try to meet her? "No, I didn't."

Do you know if there will be a special White House screening? "Thank you," Newton said, walking out of the room at the end of the press conference.

Maybe there's a reason the British actress wasn't as forthcoming as her co-stars. See my "W." review in today's Sun News. Once there, also look for my review of "The Secret Life Of Bees," and an interview with one of its stars, Alicia Keys.

Find some early words, too, on next week's "Pride and Glory" with five questions for Edward Norton.

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